The Bentwaters Cold War Museum
.. gets off the ground!
by Jon Saunders

As I got out of the car I stopped and took a long look across the runway.  Staring through the heat haze waiting for an F4, an A10 or maybe an F16..

A voice came from behind me "Morning Jon"

It was 9am on the 31st May 2003 and the voice was that of Graham Haynes the Bentwaters Cold War Museum's Technical Advisor.  Today was the first day of the Bentwaters Cold War Museum project and the first day a small volunteer team of twinbases enthusiasts would meet to begin work on the museum.

The museum (click here for the floor plan) will be dedicated to preserving the aviation heritage with which the twinbases became synonymous during almost half a century of their history.  Originally the museum was to be located in the Bentwaters Control Tower, but the revised plan is now to house the museum in the former hardened Wing Operations Centre (WOC).  The larger WOC will allow for a far greater range of exhibits to be displayed and there are plans to restore some of the rooms to operational appearance.  The exhibits will also encompass RAF Woodbridge, the other half of the twinbases complex.

The museum project will take several years to complete and as I have already mentioned, due to the physical size of the command bunker, will hold a large number of exhibits. As well as the main museum in the WOC there are plans to restore other buildings on the base and to include them on a bus tour of the site.  The museum is also hoping to acquire some appropriate aircraft to have as static display items.

The first days work involved the stripping out of the unwanted fixtures from the command bunker, several of which will be reused as display cases etc when the museum goes live.  That's a very short sentence to describe what took 8 of us all day to do.  We were amazed how much stuff an empty building holds.  After quite a hard battle with a few of the consoles in the proposed Woodbridge exhibition room, the rather gooey job or removing some large piles of soggy/greasy floor tiles, trying not to stir up the halon dust that is all over the place in the proposed meeting room and an impressive spark show due to an emergency lighting plug and a hacksaw, the initial clearout of the old fixtures and fittings was completed.

This was an ideal opportunity to have a stand around and talk about how great the base and the people were, what every bodies favourite plane was, chat about the next set of jobs to be done, future plans and ideas and of course have drink

I will keep this site informed on updates on the museum projects progress, and hopefully if any of you manage to make it across the pond you'll come and visit the Bentwaters Cold War Museum.  If anyone has any items they would like to donate to the museum for possible inclusion as a display item please feel free to contact -

Sarah Kemball, Museum Organization at [email protected]
Graham Haynes, Technical Advisor at [email protected]

Or write to:

Sarah Kemball
Bentwaters Parks Ltd
The Control Tower
IP12  3PG

Other links:  -  the Bentwaters parks web site, has a large gallery of site photos you may find bring back a few memories.  - a great site for everything that was RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge.

click to enlarge
81st SPS Sign
Slug Hunting
photos by Jon Saunders